This is the first of a daily look at the top prospects in the NBA Draft: Their strengths, their weaknesses, and whether or not they're a fit for the Celtics. Today's prospect: Michigan's Mitch McGary.
MITCH McGARY, Michigan
6-foot-10, 263 pounds
HIS STORY: If Mitch McGary declared for the 2013 draft, he would have been a lottery pick. He had a monster 2013 NCAA Tournament, in which he broke into Michigan's starting lineup and averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds as he helped lead the Wolverines to the national title game. That high-profile performance changed his status from a freshman who wouldn’t dare leave school early, to one of the potential stars of what was a remarkably weak draft. Ultimately, he chose to return for his sophomore season . . . and it was a disaster. He was hampered by a back injury from the beginning of the year, appeared in only 8 games, and averaged just 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds before deciding to have season-ending back surgery in January.
HIS STRENGTHS: McGary’s size, flashes of skill, and toughness are what initially interested the scouts in 2013. He’s a great passer for a big man, can knock down a 15-foot jumper, is a high motor guy, and has a high basketball IQ.
HIS WEAKNESSES: Although scouts like McGary’s potential, there were always questions about how his game would translate to the NBA. He’s not able to create his own shot, can’t really put it on the deck, and is an average athlete. And now, coming off back surgery, concerns about his health are the bigger issue.
IS HE A FIT FOR THE CELTICS? His career arc is incredibly similar to current Celtic Jared Sullinger. Sully had a big-time freshman year at Ohio State, but then struggled with back injuries as a sophomore. He went from being a lottery lock to the 21st overall pick. Sullinger was a better player in college than McGary and will be absolutely be a better pro. McGary will definitely be available for the Celtics at No. 17, but to take a poor man’s version of a young guy they already have, in Sullinger, just wouldn’t make sense.
COMING ON WEDNESDAY: Markel Brown of Oklahoma State